I’ve been playing with Age-Adjusted Market Share again. Shocking, right? Anyway, instead of “dragging” you through another diatribe on the value of early production, I thought I’d do something more fun.
Here’s a look at the career usage of the most common top five 2018 wide receivers rookies and who they best compare to in the NFL. The comparisons are based on their college Market Share (MS), not them as players. Since MS has a good correlation to NFL success, this doesn’t define who they can be, but it does give a different way of visualizing what MS says about their chance of success.
These aren’t “comps”, just weird and wonderful comparisons of the amount of production they accounted for in college.
What are we Comparing? Above/below Average Market Share Yards
Using the ideas from Jon Moore (@HelloJonMoore) on RotoViz, I worked out the average MS of players in the NFL who have at least one 150 PPR point season since 2008. I’d highly recommend checking out Moore’s work, if you haven’t already, including his recent article on why older prospects can still be good if they break these averages.
Using this, you can see how a player’s production, at every age, compares to successful wide receivers in the NFL. Or, how far above or below the average MS of successful wide receivers they were. Call it the ‘Jon Moore Index’ (as long as he doesn’t mind) or just ‘Above/Below AVG MS Yards’.
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This correlates well to PPR points in the first three years of a player’s career. I’m not here for that today. But I have written about it and put some examples on Twitter if you want to check them out:
Once you know the AVG MS YDs for each NFL WR with 150 PPR pts since 2018, you can start to compare them directly to anyone. I averaged the difference at each age for every pros[ect since 2000. Here are some fun tables and graphs. pic.twitter.com/D0xKD4xtwe
— Peter Howard (@pahowdy) March 9, 2018
DJ Moore and Amari Cooper
Easily my WR1 in this class, Moore has a lot of positive signs on his production profile. For example, he has the highest MS of yards, for any player since 2014, in his final and age-20 season.
Amari Cooper: 11.2% Above Average MS Yds
DJ Moore: 10.5% Above Average MS Yds
While their MSs are different, the average difference between the two is the closest comparison for either player. Amari Cooper was a lot more productive in his age-18 season, while Moore was more productive in his final season. Moore improved his production every year, while Cooper took a slight dip at age 19 below the average. These are all important elements of the most successful wide receivers in the NFL as I looked at in my WhipperSnapper article.
“Weird” comparison: Rashard Higgins: 11.2% Above average MS Yds
It’s striking that such a poorly-rated (by most) player should compare to two such high-value players. But not really. Higgins was a dominant college player who has struggled to find opportunity in the NFL. He’s also a below average athlete and, while I don’t think we know how athletic metrics relate to NFL success, we can be sure that having none is a bad thing.
Christian Kirk isn’t at the top of my ranks, but Odell Beckham varies from first to third in his own draft class in my model. So…who knows? Both receivers were above average at every age of their college career between 18 and 20 years old.
Christian Kirk: 6.7% Above Average MS Yds
Odell Beckham: 6.2% Above Average MS Yds
I’m not entirely convinced of “Above/Below Average MS Yds” ability to compare players, and this doesn’t mean that Kirk will be the next Odell Beckham. Instead, I think it says that his College MS is as encouraging of NFL success as Beckham. Both players being above average at 18 also very encouraging. Still, let’s keep the potential hype in check for the Texas A&M prospect, by seeing his “Weird” comp: Jaelen Strong.
Jaelen Strong: 6.3% Above Average MS Yds
To be fair, this only works if you ignore Jaelen Strong’s failure to produce at age 18. But his age 19 and 20 seasons were remarkably similar.
I couldn’t find a great comparison for Calvin Ridley using Above/Below Average MS Yds for anyone since 2014, so I had to reach back further. I do have reservations about Ridley’s production based on when it happened, but Torrey Smith is – to my mind – a positive comparison. Ridley ran a 4.43 at the combine, his most positive result, but remember this doesn’t necessarily compare the type of player they are, just how encouraging their MS should be for any NFL success. Still, I doubt there will be many other ways the two will be compared so found that wonderful/interesting.
Calvin Ridley: 1.3% Above Average MS Yds
Torrey Smith: 1.4% Above Average MS Yds
Smith played at 19, and Ridley didn’t. Smith left for the NFL a year earlier at 21, Ridley stayed in College and improved his MS, even if MS back above the Average. Still, they compare remarkably well based on how when you average the gap between their production points and the trend line.
The best comparison I could find since 2014, and his “weird” comparison, was Jared Abbrederis.
Jared Abbrederis: 2.7% Above Average MS Yds
Abbrederis actually produced more of his team’s yards at age 21 and 22 years old than Ridley, and he also played at age 19 (albeit below average for successful NFL receivers.) Other than Abbrederis being slightly higher above the average, they basically reflect each other’s college profiles well.
I’ll call this Courtland Sutton’s weird and wonderful comparison. James Washington and Courtland Sutton have the same Above Average MS for their overall career. They both played four years. Washington was better at 18, but both were below the average of successful NFL players. While Sutton was further above the average than Washington at ages 19 and 20, Washington took back the lead when Sutton’s production dropped in his final year. In short, their age-adjusted production mirrors each other very closely.
Courtland Sutton: 1.7% Above Average MS Yds
James Washington: 1.7% Above Average MS Yds
I really couldn’t find a great comparison going back to 2000 for either. I don’t read too much into that but did find it interesting they produced a similar amount, on average, of their team’s yards. It turns out that playing four years, starting at 18 and having between 1% and 2% above-average MS Yards, is a (likely random) dead zone.
Last but not least, we have Michael Gallup. He’s the other name I see most commonly in the top five at the position. Gallup played for Butler Community College for two years before transferring to Colorado State so his FBS stats are limited to his age 20 and 21 seasons. At Butler, he managed 780 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in his first year but only played four games in his second because of an injury. (He had nine receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown before the injury.) Despite MS still being useful for “Smaller School” players, I’m not going to include earlier MS to keep things neat simple.
Michael Gallup: 10.4% Above Average MS Yds
Jordan Matthews: 11.6% Above Average MS Yds
Even if we included his stats from Butler College, he’d be dinged by his lack of early production – like Mike Williams from the 2017 class. Comparing him to Jordan Matthews, one of the most impressive MS producers in college, isn’t a great comp. But, I’m interested in Gallup, so I included it as food for thought.
A better comparison for Gallup is Albert Wilson. He also has missing early years on his profile because only his 2013 is recorded by sports-reference.com.
Michael Gallup: 10.4% Above Average MS Yds
Albert Wilson: 10.2% Above Average MS Yds
Wilson was the first player from Georgia State to ever get an invite to the combine. Despite missing all three years – ages 18 to 20 – his final season his numbers are dominant enough to be very close to Gallup.
Both produced at an older age, and have invisible younger seasons at a lower level of competition. Both produced well above the average later in their college career.
One final thing
While we’re here, why not take a look this rookie class scores overall. Here are the top 19 players in the 2018 class ranked by their “Above/Below Average MS Yds.”
And here are the bottom 22.
- Justin Watson was not invited to the combine. While he could be interesting, he’s not someone I’m interested in for most rookie drafts.
- DJ Moore is the most likely successful NFL wide receiver in this class #WR1.
- Equanimeous St. Brown and Keke Coutee are still interesting prospects, but, yes, this does worries slightly.
Finally, if anyone wants to see a specific player’s graph, I’ll be happy to share it.
Thanks for checking this out. You can find me on Twitter any time or comment down below and I’ll try and get back to you as soon as I can.
Peter Howard (@pahowdy)
UDFA's matter | British ex-pat | Writer of things
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